Air Pollution, Noise Pollution Both Bad for Heart
Scientists have known for years that exposure to pollution increases a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Various studies have established a link between exposure to noise pollution, for instance, and increased risk that a person will develop atherosclerosis. Likewise, studies have identified a link between exposure to fine particulate air pollution and heart disease risk. Now German researchers have confirmed that the combination of these two forms of modern urban pollution is bad for the cardiovascular system.
That’s bad news for many urban residents, who live surrounded by automobile exhaust and the noise that comes with heavy auto traffic. The study was announced at the recent meeting of the American Thoracic Society, in Philadelphia. “Many studies have looked at air pollution, while others have looked at noise pollution,” said study leader Barbara Hoffmann, MD, MPH. “This study looked at both at the same time and found that each form of pollution was independently associated with subclinical atherosclerosis.”
Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory condition that affects the lining of blood vessels. It is the underlying cause of most cardiovascular disease. When atherosclerotic plaques form they sometimes form clots in the vessels that nourish the heart, which may obstruct blood flow, causing a heart attack. Previous research has concluded that breathing heavily polluted air pollution increases the risk of having a heart attack for up to six hours after exposure.
Hoffmann B, Hennig F, et al. Searching For The Culprit: Is Urban Particulate Air Pollution Or Road Traffic Noise Responsible For The Association Of Traffic Proximity With Subclinical Atherosclerosis - Results From The Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study.
Bhaskaran K, Hajat S, Armstrong B, Haines A, Herrett E, Wilkinson P, Smeeth L. The effects of hourly differences in air pollution on the risk of myocardial infarction: case crossover analysis of the MINAP database. BMJ. 2011 Sep 20;343:d5531. doi: 10.1136/bmj.d5531.